28 November 2013

Thanksgiving Day Matins

Thanksgiving is always a bit of a home-coming day at St. Paul's. To be sure, we have families missing who travel to be with those who live elsewhere, but so many others come home. Great to see the gym packed this morning for service. The bells played and the choir sang along with them a setting of Bach's "Now Thank We." Bekah and Elizabeth got the choir some hymnals from the 7th-8th grade classroom so we could sing the harmonies in Matins (Builder doesn't have that option...yet?). Pastor Ball preached a fabulous homily, mostly on the second reading. We sang the Starke Te Deum, much to David's chagrin. He really loves singing the Anglican setting from Matins. But from start to finish a joyous service. Oh and a funny: a mistake I think I made in the bulletin some four years ago was faithfully carried forth for another year. The people's part of the responsory isn't printed! The choir was ready and sang it for the congregation.

27 November 2013

The Calm Before the Feast

Well, Cindi's been a busy little beaver. Cranberry sauce is made. Crackers are made. Pecan, Pumpkin and Chocolate pies made (and Bekah made a Cherry one). Potatoes peeled and sitting in water. Turnips and parsnips already cooked and blended, only needing to reheat. Sweet potato soufflé assembled and ready for baking. Turkey (a rather spendy organically raised critter) has been thawing for days and will shortly end up in brine. Bacon already cooked and ready to sauté with the shredded brussel sprouts and onions. Dubliner, Brie and a garlic cheese ready to serve up with crackers and summer sausage as appetizers (not doing much with appetizers this year). David's bringing some rolls and I'm making up a double batch of paleo dinner rolls (tapioca is amazing stuff). The gravy will be fixed tomorrow and the taters mashed, the bird carved up and we'll be ready to feast indeed.

I vacuumed and dusted; drew up a thanksgiving litany (below); prepared some music for this coming Sunday; washed the car (which was covered in salt spray thanks to a truck on 1-44!); picked up some eggs from Shirley, and still have to sweep and mop in kitchen, but am waiting till we really are done for the day.

The activity has been good. Keeps the mind occupied. We're all missing Jo dreadfully at this time of year, and Cindi has been particularly grieving as we head through this first holiday without her. And, of course, it was the day after Thanksgiving that my own mother died nineteen years ago this year. Nineteen years...it doesn't seem possible. I remember it like it was yesterday - the phone call from the hospital. [I had originally written 20 years, thinking 2014 - but we're not there yet! All the stuff for work is focused on next year!]

So the sorrows cluster around the holidays. But also the joys. A new generation will sit at that old table this year (it was Cindi's grandmother's grandmother's originally). And little Lydia will be our joy and hopefully we'll have some face time with Lauren, Dean, Sawyer and Annabelle. And we will give thanks to the One who defeated death and has promised us a home we cannot lose. It will be hard and painful, but it will also be blessed.

A Litany and Grace for Thanksgiving Day

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The eyes of all look to You, O Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time;
You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

For the gift of this day and the opportunity to give You praise:
Glory to You, O Lord!

For the love and warmth of family and friends, both those gathered here and those gathered elsewhere, and most of all for those gathered to the Eternal Home:
Glory to You, O Lord!

For the good gift of children and grandchildren to nurture in Your love and fear; for the blessing of hearth and home:
Glory to You, O Lord!

For the joyful noise of infants cooing and children at play and for the honor of serving them, knowing they are beloved by You:
Glory to You, O Lord!

For the food You so graciously provide us and for the joy of feasting and playing together:
Glory to You, O Lord!

For the sufferings You are pleased to send us, for they purify us from selfishness and remind us of the one thing needful, Your eternal kingdom:
Glory to You, O Lord!

And finally for those things for which we are most thankful: the sweet comfort of Your Gospel, the forgiveness of all ours sins by the blood of our Lord Jesus, the promise of our resurrection to eternal life; for the joyful companionship afforded by the Church; for Your Word which is a lamp to our feet and light to our path; for the gifts of Baptism and the Eucharist; for our pastors and everyone who faithfully serve to us Your best and highest gifts:
Glory to You, O Lord!

All sing together:

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, 
In whom His world rejoices.
Who from our mother’s arms
Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.

26 November 2013

It's so cold and windy tonight

I decided to look up my favorite Advent/Christmas poem - by John Betjeman:


The bells of waiting Advent ring, 
The Tortoise stove is lit again 

And lamp-oil light across the night 
Has caught the streaks of winter rain 

In many a stained-glass window sheen 

From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green. 

The holly in the windy hedge 
And round the Manor House the yew 

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge, 
The altar, font and arch and pew, 

So that the villagers can say 

“The church looks nice” on Christmas Day. 

Provincial public houses blaze 
And Corporation tramcars clang, 

On lighted tenements I gaze 
Where paper decorations hang, 

And bunting in the red Town Hall 

Says “Merry Christmas to you all.” 

And London shops on Christmas Eve 
Are strung with silver bells and flowers 

As hurrying clerks the City leave 
To pigeon-haunted classic towers, 

And marbled clouds go scudding by 

The many-steepled London sky. 

And girls in slacks remember Dad, 
And oafish louts remember Mum, 

And sleepless children’s’ hearts are glad, 
And Christmas-morning bells say “Come!” 

Even to shining ones who dwell 

Safe in the Dorchester Hotel. 

And is it true? And is it true, 
This most tremendous tale of all, 

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue, 
A Baby in an ox’s stall? 

The Maker of the stars and sea 

Become a Child on earth for me? 

And is it true? For if it is, 
No loving fingers tying strings 

Around those tissued fripperies, 
The sweet and silly Christmas things, 

Bath salts and inexpensive scent 

And hideous tie so kindly meant, 

No love that in a family dwells, 
Nor carolling in frosty air, 

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells 
Can with this single Truth compare-- 

That God was Man in Palestine 

And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

25 November 2013

Welcoming Advent in Magdeburg, 1617 or so...

...You arrive for the Divine Service, or as they still called it, for the Mass. Of course, the real welcome of the season began the day before with Vespers and already by the time you show up they've prayed through Matins and Lauds. Still, you want to attend the Divine Service. What do you find?

The liturgy would begin with the choir singing the Introit. But not the one you might expect. It's Rorate Coeli's introit (we think of as the 4th Sunday of Advent). And it's sung in Latin. Probably along these lines:

Rorate Coeli

For some unknown reason, the Ad Te Levavi propers have wandered over to Tuesday of Advent I. When the choir completed the Introit, a three-fold (rather than traditional nine-fold) Kyrie was intoned and the Gloria in Excelsis was sung - in Latin.

A German collect would follow along these lines. Let us pray. Dear Lord God, stir us up that we be prepared when Your Son comes to welcome Him with joy and to serve You with pure hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. [Note that this prayer is used throughout the season]

The Epistle is read (that is, chanted): Romans 13:11 through the end of the chapter.

The Alleluia was also in Latin - you can hear it here. Also from the Fourth Sunday for some reason.

The Alleluia is immediately followed by the Sequence: "Mittit ad Virgine." This also in Latin. Here is an English translation:

The lover of mankind sent to the Virgin
not just any angel, but his strength, his
archangel. May that angel declare for
us the mighty message, that he may
effect on nature God's foreordination of
birth to a virgin.

Let the King of Glory, being born,
overcome nature, let him reign and rule
and remove from our midst the weight
of the dross. Let him who is mighty in
battle frighten the proud on their
heights, treading in his might upon their
haughty necks.

Let him oust the worldly prince, and
make his mother a partner with him in
his Father's kingdom. Go forth, you
who spread these gifts, unveil the
ancient writings by the strength of your

Give your tidings in person; say "Hail",
say "full of grace", say, "the Lord is
with you", and say "Fear not." O virgin
may you take up what God has entrusted
to you; thereby may you accomplish
your chaste intention and may you keep
your vow.

The maiden hears and accepts the
message; she believes and conceives
and bears a son, a wondrous one: the
counselor of the human race, and the
God of the strong, and father to future
generations, one firm in peace [rather than faith].

That He may give to us sinners remission of sins,
defense against guilt,
And a homeland in highest heaven.

I should note that the Latin was altered a bit at the end. It originally concluded:

Whose firmness makes us firm, lest our
earthly wandering impede us from being
sharers with him. May the granter of
pardon, in His superabundant mercy,
once we have obtained grace through
the Mother of Glory, dwell in us.

A most Lutheran adaptation there at the end, letting the chief thing be the chief thing.

You can hear the Latin sequence, not emended, here.

The Gospel, Matthew 21:1-10 was then chanted. This was followed by the Creed, first sung entirely in Latin and then followed by the "German Symbol" - that is, Luther's paraphrase such as you can hear here.

Then the "Concio" - the sermon commenced. When the preaching was finished, the congregation joined in Luther's Te Deum: "Herr Gott, Dich Loben Wir."

We know from another work (two years from the publication of this one) that the elements would be processed to the altar as choir boys sang: "Grant Peace, We Pray" and accompanied by incense.

The Preface followed, but with a twist at the Proper Preface. Here we read, still in Latin: "who on this day comes to us still as the meek Savior through the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments in this purified temple. Therefore with angels..."

The Sanctus is in Latin - tone IV from the Liber, I believe. This is followed by the minister singing the Lord's Prayer and the Words of Institution of the Supper. Afterwards, as the congregation communes, the Choir sings either "Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior" or the Latin or German Agnus Dei.

The distribution concluded, the final collect (from Luther's 1526 German Mass) is chanted in German and the people are blessed with the Aaronic benediction, also in German. The Mass concludes with the Choir singing the German "O Lord, We Praise Thee."

So a MASSIVE load of Latin up front; a switch to German for the readings, for the sermon, and for post-Sanctus liturgy, perhaps excepting the Agnus. Would love to have the whole thing recorded as the Praetorius Mass for Christmas Day was - from roughly about the same time.

21 November 2013

Advent and Christmas Goodies

up on Unwrapping the Gifts. Learn how to chant the Prefaces for Advent and Christmas. Hear Pr. Peter's ideas on observing Advent. Need a service of Lesson and Carols? Check out Pr. Gerike's post!

20 November 2013

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The primary purpose of music in Lutheran worship is to proclaim the Word of God.—Daniel Zager, The Gospel Preached Through Music, p. 9.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For God has cheered our hearts and minds through His dear Son, whom He gave for us to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil. He who believes this earnestly cannot be quiet about it. But he must gladly and willingly sing and speak about it so that others also may come and hear it. —Blessed Martin Luther, AE 53:333.

Patristic Quote of the Day

They were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit so that the three who are one in divinity might also be one in giving themselves.—St. Jerome (cited in Treasury, p. 931).

17 November 2013

Some Better Pics...

Pastor Ball's Comforting Homily

[the week after the fire in the church]

Saint Paul Lutheran Church
The 26th Sunday After Trinity
November 16/17, 2013+
2 Peter 3:3-14
The Rev. BT Ball

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The Lord is patient toward you; he does not wish that you or anyone should perish.  The Lord is patient with us all.  We are the sheep of his fold, the righteous ones who will be on the right hand of the Son of man when he comes in His glory.  So then, he wants you and everyone to reach repentance.  Repent.  The fire last Sunday is but a reminder of this.   Everything will burn, flames upon flames. St. Peter wrote it by the Holy Spirit; it was by the Word of God that the earth was formed, and it was by the Word of God that the flood came on the earth as the Lord started again with water, because of the wickedness of men’s hearts, and it will be with fire that things will be made anew again.  By the same Word the heavens and the earth that now exists are stored up for fire until the Day of Judgment and the destruction of the ungodly.  The fire that has displaced us from our Church is to be a remembrance of what is already plain as day in the Word of God, all should reach repentance.”

Repentance for what?  Well not loving God of course, neglecting his Word, and neglecting His house and what happens there.  You can see how suddenly something can be taken away from you, something that is loved and hold memories of generations.  But the building is only as good as what happens inside of it and what comes out of it.  The Gospel is preached, the Body and Blood of Christ are administered,  what happens, hearts still are hard and cold, and have we not all taken the gifts of God for granted, that they will always be there?  They won’t, Christ is coming.  Repentance for what?  Cold and hard hearts do not love neighbor, there are those we have hurt and those we have failed to help, our thoughts and desires have been soiled with sin.  Who by honest examination, we have not let God’s love have its way through His Word and so our love for others has failed.  There has not been enough feeding those who are hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming of the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, at least by us anyway.  But there is plenty of that done by Jesus, more than enough and much more to come.  

Seeing the smoke and ashes flying from out of the church brings to mind, sin, mortality, of our need to repent, of the looming judgment of this world, the day that will come like a thief.   What remains is Jesus, His Word, His Baptism, His Supper.  His patience. He wants you to repent, and see how when everything else can be taken away, even a church building, he remains.  And how does he want you to see him?  In the heat of His Father’s wrath against your sin being taken out on Him in His cross.  The love he has for you, for he calls you his blessed by His Father.  Jesus Father blesses you by giving you His Son, and for as much as our hearts were cold and hard to Him and His Word and to those around, even more so is the heart of Jesus warm and full of love and forgiveness for you.  He seeks to restore and rebuild, not a building, they can be torn down, burned to the ground and they all will on His day, but what cannot be torn down or burned are the righteous sheep of Jesus’ right hand.  This is what you are, sheep of Christ’s fold.  

The Father turns your heart over and restores you by the blood of His Son, that He may have you as His own.  Jesus is here even in this gym, doing what we have not done, could not do.  He feeds the hungry with good things, he gives drink to the thirsty, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, He gives His Body to eat, His Blood to drink.  He welcomes you, a stranger to His Father’s House.  You are estranged no more from your Father, for Jesus has reconciled you to the Father.  He clothes you, once naked, with His own righteousness through faith alone.  How, you know. By Holy Baptism of course.   Do you want to see renewal and restoration of the Church?  Look no farther than to two little ones.  Lydia and Kylee, baptized, in a gym, but baptized all the same.  Water was used once to destroy the earth, now water is used to create life, water joined to the word of Jesus and filled with his death and resurrection.    And look again, through all these promises how Jesus comes to visit you in your own sickness and imprisonment to sin and death.  And the Son of God died and rose, visiting you not in judgment, but taking the judgment and setting you free from it.  Because as the Apostle wrote, He, “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Let us joyfully repent then.  The patience of God in Christ Jesus is yours.   Let us even joyfully give thanks for a fire that He sent, so that He might draw us ever nearer to Himself, by having us live only by the forgiveness of sins in the death of Jesus Christ, by teaching us to live only by His promises.  Let us joyfully give thanks for a fire that draws us ever nearer to each other that we might love one another – the sheep of Christ’s right hand.  The sheep of Christ’s fold cannot perish, fire is not their destination, it is not their end.  And you are a sheep of Christ’s fold.  He is always patient with you, His righteous ones.  He will always restore, always renew, always forgive until the day when all will be made new.  That day is coming where you will stand at His right hand.  So the most important question for us now is not, “When will we get back in the church?”  But rather, “O Lord Jesus, when will you return to make all things new?”  For “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.   Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”  2 Peter 3:13-14    So here there is no spot, no blemish, no soot, no smoke, no ash no fire, but peace.  And we are at peace in the patience of Jesus.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Today My Granddaughter, Lydia, Became My Sister in Christ

Baptized into Christ, sealed with the Spirit, an heir of the Kingdom!

15 November 2013

Would someone please explain to me

how it can POSSIBLY be November 15. This month just began!!!

14 November 2013

Sunday's Joys and Sorrows

Sunday began with great joy. Not only did I get to hear my son-in-law teach on Augsburg V and XIV, but also preach a fine homily and best of all: baptize my granddaughter, Annabelle Scarlett. As AC confesses, then, Pr. Herberts was the instrument through whom the new life of the kingdom was given! Here are some pics:

Great joy indeed. We left shortly after the liturgy and began the long road home. We'd made it up into the mountains when Cindi got a text with a horrible picture. St. Paul's was on fire! Paula kept us updated. Here are some of the pics she shared with us:

Thanks be to God, it was Sausage Supper and people were around and it was caught almost right away - yet even so, what a mess. I stuck my nose through the door before choir tonight and what a reek! Keep our dear Pastors Ball and Gleason in your prayers!!! I'm suspecting that we'll be worshipping in the school for a while as the cleanup commences. So instead of Lydia being baptized in our peaceful and beautiful sanctuary this Sunday, it will be a temporary set up in the gym. But even so, there's much to rejoice in, for baptism's great strength and power hang not at all on the outward trappings, no matter how fitting and lovely. The Word with the water will deliver the goods: forgiveness of sin, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation. And what is more beautiful than that, eh? And, if there is a blessing for us personally in this, Cindi and I get to sing a special Agnus Dei this Sunday and the gym is nice and echoey - which covers a multitude of boo-boos! But make no mistake, for all of us at St. Paul's, this is worse than a kick in the gut. We love this house, this place where the Lord's gifts are given out so faithfully, so reverently, so joyously. And we're going to be grieving until Pastor makes us glad by announcing to us once again: "Let us go into the house of the Lord!"

03 November 2013

All Saints (obs.) at St. Paul's

Pastor had a very comforting sermon. And I think we all needed it. Somehow being in that room where Jo used to worship, and from which she was buried. The great bell tolling during the commemoration jars you deep in your gut. But what a lovely reading: "God will wipe away the tears from every face." And tears the poor thing had a plenty. So much suffering. So much despair. And yet faith battled it to the end. Pastor reminded us again of how she and the others are still with us at the Supper and that was a comfort indeed. Kneeling beside Meaghan with Lydia in arms, David to her other side, and Bekah on my side. And the precious body and blood given to us and we are there, in the great scene from Revelation and Jo there too, seeing her fourth great-grandchild. "Steals on the ear the distant triumph song" indeed.

Loving on my Lydia...

02 November 2013


Woke up at five, but refused to get out of bed till 5:45. Made breakfast and said prayers (not the same with Cindi gone). Set the clocks back. Did a workout with my new 30 lb kettle bell. Finished editing LetUsPray for December and submitted them to Doctrinal Review.  Lucy and I went for an early morning stroll. Then to town to pick up cat food and do some grocery shopping. Swept and mopped kitchen floor, dusted. Bekah headed into town to see the baby, but I opted to do a few more things around the house. Took a bit of break for Lucy to go on another walk - so about an hour's worth of walking so far today. Maybe we'll do another round later too. I sure didn't get much walking in this week. Now am listening to some Christmas music on iTunes radio. I like that it doesn't have the commercials Pandora does, but it is definitely not as smart as Pandora in matching the kind of music you requested - I sure don't think of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as a Christmas piece! Bekah's bowling for Cindi tonight. I might throw a couple logs in fireplace after sun goes down and enjoy my Norcal Margarita (or, as Wade at O'Charlie's calls them: a mexican martini!).

01 November 2013


...with Cindi out of town, and haircut day being here, I had to make alternative plans. I knew David had gone to this joint near Dierberg's so I gave it a try. They did a fine job, and complimented my wife on how she'd done on cutting my hair. But the funny moment came when I mentioned that my son got his hair cut there. "Oh, you should bring him along and we'll give you a father and son cut; nice discount." I paused a second and then said: "Well, I suppose we could, but he's 25 years old. In fact, he's bringing his daughter home from the hospital this afternoon." Embarrassed moment of silence. "I guess that means that you won't be bringing him in for a haircut any time soon!" True, that.